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State Supreme Court Lets BCS Ruling Stand

The decision by the state's highest court means the Los Altos School District must change how it assesses what is "reasonably equivalent" space when it offers Bullis Charter School facilities for the coming school year.

The state Supreme Court on Wednesday let stand a decision that found in favor of Bullis Charter School in its quest to get "reasonably equivalent" facilities from the Los Altos School District.

In denying a request to review the Oct. 27, 2011 decision of Sixth District Court of Appeal, the state's highest court upheld the finding that the Los Altos School District (LASD) was short-changing Bullis (BCS) in the facilities it offers the school. That court's finding that LASD must come into compliance now must be applied.

“With this facilities decision final, it is our desire to work in partnership with the District to ensure that all students are treated fairly," said Ken Moore, president of the BCS board, in a written statement.

Prop. 39 was passed by voters in 2000. It provides that charter schools are offered facilities with “conditions reasonably equivalent” to what students would receive if they were attending other public schools in the district, and that facilities must be shared with all students of the district.

Bullis' prevailing in this matter will have impact across the state, Moore said. All districts will likely be eyeing the Sixth District's decision as they consider their preliminary facilities offers to charter schools, which must be made at the end of the month.

“This decision will bolster our statewide efforts to fulfill the promise of Proposition 39,” said Jed Wallace, President and CEO of the California Charter Schools Association.

"We appreciate Bullis’ efforts to advance the cause.”

The October appeals court ruling that now stands noted that when measuring the space at district-run schools, LASD excluded from consideration more than a million square feet, collectively, from five schools used as comparison schools. Such measurements are needed to do an adequate analysis in order make "a complete and fair" facilities offer, the appeals court found in October.

In asking the state Supreme Court to review the case, the school board took issue with the appeals court ruling, arguing that the appeals court had taken away discretion of local officials to balance the needs of all public school students, and had reduced the facilities offer to a mechanical process of measurements and mathematical formula that doesn't take into account other considerations.

This appears to bring to an end the appeal by the Los Altos School Board, which had hoped to prevail at the Supreme Court level. The only court left is the U.S. Supreme Court.

The next move, in any case, is in the hands of the school district.

The decision comes at a time when charter schools and host school districts across the state are in negotiations for space allocations. Districts, by law, must make their preliminary offer to charter schools at the end of the month.

"Hopefully, Moore said, the Supreme Court ruling will inform the preliminary offer.

Moore acknowledged there had been a lot of anxiety in the schools community because many parents feared that Gardner Bullis School campus would be offered to BCS. 

While BCS has always described Gardner Bullis School as its preference when making its annual request for facilities, it has stated that any school on a 10-acre site that feeds into Los Altos High School would be an acceptable site, Moore said.

"This is truly the district's decision how they are going to comply with this," Moore added. "There are other options at their disposal."

randy albin January 23, 2012 at 09:58 PM
how about let's go back to how the bowl games were decided before the bowl championship series went into effect. ok?
Ron Haley January 24, 2012 at 04:28 AM
Here is the Ed Code on Charter funding. It seems pretty clear to me! "It is the intent of the Legislature that each charter school be provided with operational funding that is equal to the total funding that would be available to a similar school district serving a similar pupil population..." [Education Code 47630(a)
Joan J. Strong January 24, 2012 at 07:36 AM
The local city passed local parcel taxes for the District, not other entities. BCS is chartered by the County (after the District refused). The clear intent of the voters who voted for this funding, therefore, is clear. Meanwhile, speaking of intent, there is no way IN A MILLION YEARS that the Charter laws in California were passed by the voters of CA in order to allow a bunch of billionaires suck a local school district dry. No WAY. Yes, high-paid lawyers can find loopholes, but nobody can say with a straight face that what BCS did was anything but that: exploit a loophole in the law. *** But yes Ron, we know. BCS is going to sue the District again. And again. And again. It's what they do. It's why they exist. On that note, here's to hoping that the District does EVERYTHING it possibly can to delay things and does not compromise with BCS one INCH over what is absolutely required by the immediate law. Here's to hoping that LASD's lawyers can find loopholes too. Here's to hoping that they understand that working, "to avoid lawsuits with BCS" is pointless since they will be in lawsuits regardless of what they do. Here's to hoping that they can delay BCS's destruction of our local school district long enough for our information and outreach efforts to have their effect and end the interest in this "school".
randy albin January 24, 2012 at 10:47 PM
if your family can successfully interact with the schools around los altos, then bully for you. let's fix this library situation so that people can get free library cards like before. los altos school district isn't the only organization that can stir up this kind of a debate
randy albin January 27, 2012 at 09:21 PM
enough already. let's have people vote on this and then go back to when someone could get a los altos library card without having to pay to get one

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